Thursday, November 12, 2009

And what Crank and Beat the Reaper have in common?

The usual apology: I've been busy, haven't been able to post anything here. I've seen lots of interesting movies lately and been wanting to write about them, but for now this will have to suffice.

Crank, starring Jason Statham, seems to be a minor cult favourite already, even though it came out in 2006. The movie is no-holds-barred crime flick, with Statham running around for 1:30 hours, drugged almost all the time, trying to find out - well, what? I kind of lost track. The movie is just too over over-the-top, with every scene being full of cinematic, editing, cutting and photographying gimmicks.

I admit there's sort of inventiveness involved, but even for me it was too much. I could've taken most of it, if there had been more sense or depth to the plot. There's a possible tragedy in the movie, but I wasn't touched. In contrast I found myself moved when I saw the last 30 minutes of Luc Besson's Leon the other night. I'm no fan of Besson, far from it, but I've always liked this film. The scene with Jean Reno forcing Natalie Portman to leave is a tear-jerker. Yet the film is overtly violent - over-the-top in its day. Will I cry in 2025 when I see Crank again? I mean, the ages change and what seems to be over-the-top might someday become the norm, but with Crank - nah, no way.

So what's this gotta do with Josh Bazell's hyped crime novel, Beat the Reaper, that was recently translated in Finnish (under the title Niittaa noutaja)? The same sort of over-inventiveness, almost being over-the-top only for the sake of being over-the-top. The plot isn't much, and I thought the backstory with all its Auschwitz connections was very lightweight and felt forced. When I reached the climax I said: "C'mon, that's plain stupid!" But okay, I gotta give Bazell that I hadn't seen that one in any other book.

Same goes for Crank. After we'd watched it, Elina said: "Never seen anything like this." Neither had I, and I'm not sure if this is the way things have to go.

Nevertheless, I was happy Beat the Reaper being translated, since in its own way it's part of the noir renaissance, the neo-noir movement.

4 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I hated Beat the Reaper. You could feel the writer's inflated opinion of himself on every page.

Juri said...

Good to hear from you, Patti. I read in the interim that Bazell's advance for his book was extraordinarily and stupidly high. Can't believe it.

John said...

I agree with you, Patti and you too Juri -- the contrast with Leon sounds just as instructive in the case of the Bazell book. Bazell asks us to care about the loss of the cartoon girlfriend as something that matters to the character and the reader, when all she has been to us or him is a spread pair of legs (even when in the presence of her brother's death). The book has energy but is empty of everything else other than a desire for us to be impressed by the author.

JD Rhoades said...

You could feel the writer's inflated opinion of himself on every page.

Well, he is a doctor, as is the 1st person narrator. Inflated self-image is not unknown in that community.

I enjoyed Beat the Reaper, which was a fun book, and Crank, which was a fun movie.

But Leon is a GREAT movie.